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Boys State Tennis Tournament: Local athletes ready for state tournament

DOUG WOLTER/DAILY GLOBE Worthington's Andrew Johnson (left) and Carter Lindner pose for a photo during a practice session at the Worthington Middle School tennis courts Monday.

WORTHINGTON -- The spring boys tennis season has been a breeze for the Luverne Cardinals, but now the real action begins.

Today at 2 p.m. at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis, the Section 3A champion Cards play Mound Westonka in the state tournament. LHS went undefeated as a team during the regular season, but nothing ever comes easy at the state level.

The individual portion of the tournament begins Thursday. Luverne will send senior Joey Vajgrt and sophomore Jonny Vajgrt against Alan Schembri-Wismayer and Nico Villarrga of Rochester Lourdes in the first round of doubles competition at 10 a.m.

Also at 10 a.m. Thursday, a Worthington duo consisting of junior Carter Lindner and sophomore Andrew Johnson will contend with Tucker Sjoblad and Austin Wong of The Breck School.

Luverne dominated Section 3A as a team, but head coach Greg Antoine is well aware that Mound Westonka offers a mountain of a challenge today.

"They have three really strong players. And so we're going to have to really work hard to get the other four points," he said.

Antoine will play his lineup straight. As was the case for most of the season, he'll have Joey Vajgrt at No. 1 singles, Jonny Vajgrt at No. 2 singles, Dustin Deutsch at No. 3 singles and Andrew Jelkin at fourth singles. Scott Nelson and Blake Ziegler are at No. 1 doubles, Ethan Johnson and Zach Gillette at No. 2 doubles, and Eric Wohnoutka and Matt Arends at No. 3 doubles.

Win or lose, Luverne will play a second match this afternoon or Wednesday.

The Cardinals appear well-positioned statistically. They are 61-7 in singles matches this year and 64-4 in doubles matches.

Trojans Johnson and Lindner say they'll be mentally ready for facing their Breck rivals. Breck's reputation for outstanding tennis is well documented, but the Trojans say they'll let the chips fall where they may.

"I think to win we need to not think about the competition -- just think about them being a normal opponent. Also, being Breck, all the pressure is on them. We have nothing to lose," said Lindner Monday afternoon during a practice session.

WHS head coach Mike Marquardt agreed. He noted that the circumstances will be much different than what Johnson and Lindner have grown accustomed to. The match will take place indoors. And it will be against a high level of competition. But the key is to play a relaxed and focused game.

"It'll depend on how our comfort level is," said Marquardt. "My job is just to get them relaxed and play as well as they can."

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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